Noun Definition & Types

noun definition and types

A noun is a naming word used to identify people, animals, places, objects, ideas, states of being. Here we will look at noun definition and types.

These are all different types of nouns:
tree, mother, Thomas, Earth, happiness, cruelty 

TYPES OF NOUNS

In English, there are different types of nouns which have different uses and rules associated with them.

GENDER OF NOUNS

Nouns in English are neutral in gender unless they specifically refer to a masculine or feminine being, such as a person or an animal, when gender may be shown through differentiated nouns, for example

male          female        neutral
man           woman        person
father         mother        parent
actor          actress        actor
boy            girl               child
cock           hen             chicken
stallion       mare           horse

Note – exceptions to this are ships and cars, which are both often referred to as female

COMMON NOUNS

A common noun is a general term that refers to things of a type. The common noun definition is that it is a generic name for any person, place, animal or thing in a particular group or class. 

dog, river, church, planet, day, car, table are all examples of common nouns

A common noun can take the definite and indefinite article, and other determiners
a cat, this chair, my sister

Common nouns may be found in the singular or the plural form. Usually the plural form is different from the singular. 

Making a common noun plural

Common nouns often take an -s or an -es for the plural form, but not always. 

The following show the rules for making common nouns plural: 

In English some nouns are always plural

clothes
trousers
jeans
shorts
tights
glasses (spectacles)
sunglasses
headphones
scissors
tweezers
tongs
pliers

Some nouns are often used with the expression a pair of

a pair of shoes
a pair of glasses (spectacles)
a pair of sunglasses
a pair of earrings 
a pair of gloves

PROPER NOUNS

A proper noun is a specific name given to an individual. The proper noun definition is that it is a name given to a particular person, pet animal, place, organisation or thing to identify it as an individual.

my cat’s name is Opus
cat is the common noun, Opus is the proper noun

Proper nouns are written with a capital letter – see also Capitalisation 

They include names given to specific:

People Elizabeth,  Mary, George Smith

Pets Rex the dog

Places Spain, London, Venice, Europe
countries, capitals, cities, towns etc.

Days and months Tuesday, Friday, January, September

Religions Christianity, Koran, Hindus, Christmas 
scriptures, worshipers, celebrations  

Natural phenomenon River Thames, Lake Geneva, Mars

Buildings and monuments  Eiffel Tower, Big Ben

Companies and brands Rolls Royce, Manchester United

CONCRETE NOUNS

A concrete noun is a naming word for something you can see, touch, feel, taste, hear – something that you can perceive with your five senses.

Some concrete nouns are very obvious:
apple, lorry, jug, bedroom, friend

Some are not so obvious:
noise, laughter, physical pain, heat, rainbow
You can hear noise and laughter, you can feel physical pain and heat, you can see a rainbow, so these are all concrete nouns.

Remember – if something can be perceived with the senses, it is a concrete noun. 

ABSTRACT NOUNS

An abstract noun is the opposite of a concrete noun and refers to something that can not be seen, smelt, touched, heard or tasted – perceived with the five senses.

Abstract nouns are intangible and include ideas, emotions, feelings, qualities:
happiness, jealousy, intelligence, humour, strength, excitement, truth, democracy, love

COMPOUND NOUNS

Compound nouns are the grouping together of two or more words, for example
class + room  > classroom

They can appear with the individual words joined together, separated by a hyphen or remain separate:
paintbrush  (paint + brush) 
mother-in-law
wedding dress

Some compound nouns may be correct both with or without a hyphen, and unfortunately it is often not clear if the hyphen is needed or not:
Vice-President and Vice President are both correct
changing-room and changing room are both correct

COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

A countable noun describes separate objects that can be counted.
They are also known as unit nouns, and can have singular and plural forms.
an apple  –  three apples
a cat  –  seven cats

An uncountable noun cannot be individually counted.
They are also known as mass nouns.
They can not take the indefinite article (a or an) and they do not have a plural form.
water   music   money   furniture   happiness   wealth

Note:
Water is uncountable, but a glass of water is countable.
Music is uncountable, but a piece of music is countable.
Furniture is uncountable, but a piece of furniture is countable.

PRACTICE EXERCISES

1. Fill in the blanks

Singular     Plural
child             _____ 
house           _____ 
fox                _____ 
_____          knives
bus               _____ 
lunch            _____ 
_____          sheep

2. Find the proper nouns

May     summer     joy     chair     bedroom    treehouse     Mars     lamps     Italy    wealth    building     River Thames     Thomas    stone    brushes     cushion     leaves    fun

3. True or False

Laughter is a concrete noun because we can hear it.

Love and hate are concrete nouns.

School is an abstract noun and teacher is a concrete noun.

Wind is an abstract noun.

4. Fill in the blanks with MUCH or MANY 

I’ve got so ____ news to tell you.

There are too ____ people here.

How ____ money does he earn?

Answers
1. children, houses, foxes, knife, buses, lunches, sheep 
2. May, Mars, Italy, River Thames, Thomas
3. true, false, false, false .
4. much, many, much

Related Topics